Mumbai: Gold imports by India, the largest market after China, fell by almost half last month, according to a person familiar with the information, even as jewellers prepare for “decent” sales during Akshaya Tritiya, a day Hindus consider auspicious.
Shipments plunged 47 per cent to 64.2 metric tons in March from 121 tons a year earlier, the person said, asking not to be identified as the figures aren’t public. Imports in the first three months totalled 159 tonnes, down 42 per cent from a year ago, data collated by Bloomberg show. Finance Ministry spokesman D.S. Malik didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone.
Ample supply in domestic markets after huge inflows last year, and sluggish demand, helped spur the slide in imports in the first quarter. Rising global prices have also kept a lid on shipments before the auspicious gold buying day of Akshaya Tritiya in the Hindu calendar on April 18.
“There isn’t that crazy, mad rush to purchase gold for Akshaya Tritiya as we have seen in the past, but we are expecting balanced and decent buying,” Saurabh Gadgil, chairman of PN Gadgil Jewellers Pvt. Ltd., said by phone from Pune. There’s been a regular flow of advance orders for the auspicious day, some helped by the bullish outlook for prices because of global uncertainties and US-China trade tensions, he said.
Consumption of gold has been declining in the country as a slowdown in the economy led people to hold back spending, Gadgil said. Demand has been hit in Asia’s third-largest economy by the cash ban in 2016 and the chaotic implementation of the goods and services tax last year. While there are some signs demand is recovering, it’s not enough to fuel widespread optimism.
“In reality, we are looking at Diwali when things should pick up,” Gadgil said, referring to the festival of lights, which falls in November this year.